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    2020 World Travel Awards

    The Votes Are In – 2020 World Travel Awards

    What. A. Year.

    Yep it was one for the record books, and yet, we managed some remarkable and inspiring travel moments despite it all. So in keeping with the past four years, we want to bestow our 2020 World Travel Awards. This year we have fewer countries, lodgings, and experiences to consider…but we believe they deserve our 2020 World Travel Awards recognition nonetheless.

    Victoria Falls
    Victoria Falls, Zambia

    By the way, I’ve been asked many times whether we lost a lot of money on travel when we had to abandon our trip in 2020. It took some work and persistence but most airlines, all Airbnb’s and all but one hotel gave us refunds or vouchers for future use. With about $10,000 at stake, we feel blessed to have only ended up losing about $1500. One silver lining in the Covid nightmare.

    And so, for the fourth year in a row, our 2020 World Travel Awards are here. If you are interested, check out our 2017 Travel Awards, our 2018 Travel Awards and last year, our 2019 Travel Awards.

    And the winner is…

    DESTINATIONS

    Eleven Countries (we were supposed to visit 30)

    For reference we visited Mauritius, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Uganda, Rwanda, Israel, Cyprus, England and the United States.

    Favorite Overall Country – Cyprus

    Cyprus
    Cyprus

    Despite the fact we hardly saw any of Cyprus, we still bestow it the 2020 World Travel Awards favorite overall country. Cyprus is where we went into lockdown and where we were stuck for seven weeks, housebound and unable to see any sites. We never ate in a single restaurant, went to the beach or saw any historic ruins or sites. Luckily the one thing we were able to do before we were forced into house arrest, was a wonderful cooking class. More about that below.

    When we can travel again, we will return to Cyprus, to see the sights and to see the wonderful people we met during our time there.

    Favorite City – Tel Aviv, Israel

    Israel
    Tel Aviv

    We had four days in the beautiful city of Tel Aviv, a little jewel of a modern city in this incredibly ancient country. On day five as we began to explore more of Israel is when we, with only a few hours notice, were forced to leave as Israel went into lockdown. So the rest of Israel remains on our list, but thank you Tel Aviv for a wonderful visit.

    Cutest Town – Bend Oregon USA

    Bend Oregon
    Mexican food in Bend

    On our road trip in August we spent three quick days in Bend and I was reminded once again how much I love this part of the USA. It’s just beautiful and the food and beer are excellent too. I will definitely go again and spend more time eating and playing in this beautiful area.

    Favorite Island – Maui Hawaii USA

    Maui
    Maui

    It’s no secret how much I love the island of Maui…one of the most beautiful islands of the world. I have been blessed to visit many, many MANY islands, and still Maui remains at the top of my list. This past year in an effort to hide from Covid, we spent nine lovely weeks in Maui.

    Most Expensive Country – Israel

    Israel
    Israel

    Even though we did not spend even an entire week in Israel, it was clearly one of the most expensive countries we have been to. Still it remains at the top of our list we want to return to and enjoy.

    Least Expensive Country – Mauritius

    Considered an African country but feeling more like India, Mauritius is a unique place for culture, food and weather. Six weeks here was inexpensive for us and we enjoyed it very much.

    Accommodation

    Ten Airbnb/VRBO, Eleven Hotels, One Tree House, One Kibbutz

    Favorite Airbnb – Cyprus

    Lemon Grove Villa Cyprus
    Lemon Grove Villa, Cyprus

    Our Airbnb in Cyprus, called Lemon Grove Ena was an absolute blessing – and we will forever be grateful that it is where we were when we got locked down. For seven weeks our hosts Maria and Fritos, as well as their property manager Sofronios, all of whom spoke minimal English, made heroic efforts to keep us safe and comfortable. We could not have been in better hands.

    Favorite Airbnb Hosts – Cyprus

    As above, our Cyprus hosts were so special. We hope to see them again soon.

    Most Unique Accommodation – Tie for this category; Tree House Fall City Washington and Glamping in Carbondale Colorado

    Tree House Point
    Tree House Point Fall City Washington

    Back in the USA we were looking for ways to stay sane so we took a couple much needed Sanity Staycations. In doing so we discovered some unique places to stay. The first one was a beautiful Tree House about an hour from our home. The second was an awesome Glamping Safari Tent just outside of Aspen Colorado in Carbondale.

    Best Hotel – Uganda

    Uganda
    Hotel Uganda

    We were on a tour in Uganda, four days to see the Mountain Gorillas. And for two of those nights we stayed in a mountainside hotel called Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge. It was a tiny place with each room a separate cabin perched in the hills just outside of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Of all the places I have stayed around the world, the service here was one of the best. It also included a delicious small restaurant and bar. Each night they provided a turn down service as well as a hot water bottle tucked into the sheets. When we returned from our very wet and muddy trek in the jungle, they did our laundry too. Lovely.

    Most Unique Hotel – Zambia

    Zambia
    Ngoma Zanga Hotel

    During our time at Victoria Falls we spent a week in a tiny African hotel called Ngoma Zanga. We ate all our meals here, enjoyed our comfortable room and the amazing staff that helped us have the best experience possible at Victoria Falls.

    Best View Accommodations – Maui

    Maui
    View from Kihei Surfside

    We love to visit Maui and when there we always try to stay at the Kihei Surfside with it’s impeccable view

    Strangest Hotel Experience – London

    Aerotel Hotel
    Teeny Heathrow Hotel

    When we finally were allowed to leave Cyprus we headed back to the USA via London and those two days of travel were unlike anything we have ever experienced. See below for details. But we had to find a room at Heathrow, when everything was shut down. And so we stayed in what was essentially a closet for one night at Aerotel Hotel. There was no food available anywhere in or near the hotel so we ate day old sandwiches we had brought from Cyprus, slept fitfully and then boarded a USA bound flight in the morning. See more about that below.

    Food

    Favorite Cuisine – Israel

    Israel
    Food of Israel

    Mediterranean food and middle eastern food collides in Israel and we enjoyed every bite and every morsel we could in our short visit. Even in the short time we had, this country easily is the tops in food for the 2020 World Travel Awards.

    Best Cooking Class – Cyprus

    Cyprus
    Cyprus Cooking Class with Mrs. Sofia

    So grateful to have had this experience just hours before going into full lockdown on Cyprus. It was our one opportunity to learn some culture and history and to meet some amazing locals. I cherish this day and all we learned and continue to make Cypriot dishes here at home. Our tour was organized by Cyprus Taste Tours.

    Best Beer – Maui

    Maui
    Maui Brewing Company

    Maui has a great microbrew culture and we visited three different microbreweries (and one distillery) on the island.

    Best Coffee – Cyprus

    Coffee
    Learning to make Cypriot Coffee

    Much like Greek or Turkish coffee, Cypriot Coffee is rich and dark and cooked in an Cezva and we loved it.

    Best Meal – Maui

    Mala Tavern
    Ono at Mala Tavern Grill, Maui

    Nine weeks in Maui was amazing, but in an effort to social distance we did not eat in very many restaurants. But, when we did we had no complaints. Two incredible fish meals stand out for me; Mala Ocean Tavern and The Sea House Restaurant.

    Best Cultural & Natural Experiences

    Best Sunset – Maui

    Sunset
    Maui Sunset

    There it is again, my favorite island, which for 2020 also presented me my favorite sunsets…night after night.

    Best Cultural Experience – Soweto South Africa

    Soweto
    Childen in Soweto coming ot great us

    While in Johannesburg we took a cultural tour that included time in Soweto – the infamous township just outside of Johannesburg. We were thrilled by our reception, visiting a home, meeting lots of kids and learning so much about all that has happened to the people of Soweto. We booked this tour through Get Your Guide.

    Best Beach – Maui and Honorable Mention Tel Aviv

    Maui Beach with Turtle
    Maui Beaches

    Our favorite beaches are all in Maui, and while there we went to dozens. But we also thought the public beach in Tel Aviv was astonishingly beautiful. The beaches of Tel Aviv are another reason we can’t wait to return to Israel.

    Best Tour and Best Tour Guide – Uganda

    Best Bucket List Experience – Uganda

    Silverback Mountain Gorilla
    Uganda Mountain Silverback Gorilla

    Seeing Mountain Gorillas in the wild was a lifelong dream for me, and celebrating this bucket list adventure for my 60th birthday could not have been better. Working with a tour operator called Achieve Global Safaris we were greeted at the airport by our guide John, who spent the next four days making sure we had an experience of a lifetime. I loved our time in beautiful Uganda and seeing the gorillas.

    Best Natural Site – Victoria Falls with Honorable Mention to Mount Rainier

    Victoria Falls
    Victoria Falls

    I am a bit of a waterfall junkie…can’t get enough! Our world travels have included seeing some of the most majestic and beautiful waterfalls around the world! In February we were blessed to visit the spectacular Victoria Falls, which straddles the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Beyond breathtaking. Magnificent.

    Mount Rainier
    Mount Rainier

    And right in our home region of Washington State is another breathtaking and magnificent Natural Site – Mount Rainier. We did a lot of hiking this summer in and around Mount Rainier National Park. A place I do not take for granted and know how lucky I am to have this so close to home.

    Best Manmade Site – Caesarea Israel

    Amphitheater
    Caesarea, Israel

    Although we were very disappointed to unexpectedly end our time in Israel due to the lockdown, we did get to see a few amazing things, including several remarkable ancient sites. We particularly enjoyed the ancient city of Caesarea with it’s fabulous chariot race track, remarkably intact amphitheater and many other interesting sites, all with a view of the ocean.

    Best History Tour – Johannesburg South Africa

    Hector Pieterson Memorial
    Hector Pieterson Memorial

    Our full day tour of Johannesburg not only gave us the opportunity to visit Soweto (see above) and the Apartheid Museum (see below) it also covered many significant historical events that have occurred in Johannesburg. It was fascinating and I highly recommend it.

    Best Day Hike – Rwanda

    Rwanda children
    School children greeting us on our Rwanda hike

    Our week in Rwanda gave us a chance to learn more about the genocide that happened there in 1994, but it also gave us a chance to get out into the rural areas and see some of the beauty of this often overlooked destination. From the lakeside town of Kivu, we hiked with a guide over a mountain to a small village (about 8 miles) on the Rwanda Congo Nile Trail, and then took a tiny boat back. We learned so much about the history, culture, industry, agriculture, flora and fauna of this tiny little nation. It was a remarkable day – one of those rare and memorable experiences that was delightfully authentic – a top prize for the 2020 Travel Awards.

    Expensive but Worth It – Mountain Gorillas Uganda

    At nearly $4000 for a five day visit, this tour was far and away more expensive than anything we have ever spent our travel dollars on. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Speaking of heartbeat…mine nearly stopped when we finally found the family of eight gorillas we had spent three hours tromping through the jungle looking for. One of the most unforgettable days of my life. Enjoy this little video (which is by far my most watched YouTube video ever! ) Achieve Global Safaris was amazing.

    Best Gardens – Mauritius

    Botanical Gardens Mauritius
    Botanical Gardens in Mauritiius

    We spent one day at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens near the town of Port Louise on the island of Mauritius. We were really surprised to find such a vast and well maintained Botanical Gardens in this tiny island nation.

    Best Conservation/Environmental Protection Site – Mauritius

    Endangered spieces
    Isla Aigrettes, Mauritius

    Definitely my favorite thing we did on the island of Mauritius was the boat tour to Ile aux Aigrettes, a protected atoll only 100 yards off shore. Here we took a remarkable guided walking tour to learn about the work being done by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to preserve and protect numerous endangered species of animals, birds and plants. Mauritius can’t bring back the extinct Dodo bird, but they are working very hard to preserve the other unique and beautiful animals and flora of this special island.

    Best Museum – Apartheid Museum Johannesburg South Africa

    Apartheid Museum
    Entrance ticket, Apartheid Museum

    This museum is one of the best I’ve been to in the entire world. Amazingly organized to enjoy and learn chronologically it includes many interactive, video, audio aspects as well as an outdoor art exhibit. We were there for two hours and I wish we had two more. The Apartheid Museum is worth a trip to Johannesburg to see.

    Craziest Thing We Did – Angels Pool Victoria Falls Zimbabwe

    Angels Pool
    Angels Pool, Victoria Falls

    Whenever I look at these photos, I wonder what was I thinking? To be honest I did not really understand what I was signing up to do and it was only in the moment that I thought “oh shit.” But with caution we proceeded and it was actually fun, but also pretty freaking crazy. One of those things you do in a foreign country and afterwards you think “this would never be allowed in the USA.” I survived Angels Pool, Victoria Falls.

    Least English Spoken – Cyprus

    To be fair, we only dealt with a handful of people in Cyprus since we were mostly in house arrest, but the few friends we made we needed to do a lot of hand signals and pointing and laughing trying to get our message across

    Friendliest People – Rwanda

    Rwanda
    A new friend in Rwanda

    Every person we met in Rwanda was a delight. From hotel people to just people on the street we found Rwandans sincere, kind and very interested in us. Like in some other countries, I still hear from a few people we connected with and I love knowing they are well and still remembering meeting us.

    Weather

    Hottest Day – Mauritius

    Mauritius
    Mauritius Beach

    I swooned in Mauritius. The humidity was oppressive on a few days. Hottest day was 101F. We also lived through our third cyclone while on the island.

    Coldest Day – Haleakala Maui

    Haleakala
    Haleakala Hike

    At 10,000 feet Haleakala, particularly on a windy day, can be downright frigid. It was 37F in the morning with a nasty wind chill as we started our hike there.

    Exercise

    Best Place to Run – Maui

    Hands down of all the places we traveled this year running in Maui was the best. I always run in the morning before it got too warm, and the view, well, you can’t beat it.

    Best Game of Golf – Sun Valley Idaho USA

    Elk Horn golf
    Golfing in Sun Valley

    We golfed a lot this year, it being one of the few things we could get out and do safely. I made a commitment to really improve my game and I did. My favorite golf day was at Elk Horn in Sun Valley Idaho

    Best Yoga Spot – Maui

    Maui Yoga
    Yoga in Maui

    Yoga continues to be part of our daily routine, and Maui wins again, offering us the best yoga spot we found.

    Travel

    Craziest Travel Day Ever – Heathrow, London England

    The day we finally left Cyprus after seven weeks we flew to Heathrow and spent the night. The following morning we headed to our gate for our 12 hour flight back to the USA. This experience in Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world, will remain with me for the rest of my life. Walking through Heathrow without another person anywhere to be seen was eerie, surreal and the most defining moment for me of what Covid-19 had done to our world. It was frightening. But I’m glad I had the experience of it, I certainly will never forget it.

    Heathrow
    All alone in Heathrow Airport

    Craziest Experience Overall – Cyprus

    If you have read this far, you know we were locked down in Cyprus, basically under house arrest for seven weeks. To leave our Airbnb we had to ask permission via text. We could only leave our house once a day. So if we needed groceries, that was all we could do that day. No groceries needed? Then we could ask permission to exercise, which we did most days, running in our little neighborhood around the village of Argaka. It was a surreal experience, definitely unlike anything else we have encountered in our world travels. And despite it all, we wouldn’t change it…it certainly is something we will never ever forget. Thank you Cyprus for taking such good care of us. And no question it needs to make the list for our 2020 World Travel Awards.

    I will add, that in all our travels, our time in Cyprus was the first time we needed to be in direct contact with the US Embassy. We were grateful for the guidance they provided even though their hands were tied. If you travel international, we highly recommend signing up with each Embassy you visit through the State Department Step program…apparently you never known when you are going to need it. See how to do that here.

    Maui

    That’s a Wrap

    It was not the travel year we imagined in January 2020, and yet, we added some of the most remarkable experiences of our life to a life of extensive remarkable experiences. I am very grateful for that. And, I am beyond grateful to all the kind and wonderful people we met this year while traveling. So many just trying to save their businesses, stay safe and healthy, and do the right thing. What a blessing to have met them all.

    Rwanda Fabrics
    Our friend Job who helped us make Rwanda clothes for our family

    Next week I will share a blog about our near term travel plans. But as far as long term or international travel, we have none. My guess would be we might not leave the USA until 2022. But I can’t know that so early. If that happens, next years Travel Awards will look very different, or perhaps I will need to decide if the blog has run its course. But I can’t know that yet either. All I know is the 2020 World Travel Awards have a special place in my heart.

    Glamping Safari Tent
    Glamping in Colorado

    Meanwhile we continue to be grateful for all the travel we have enjoyed, our current state of health and wellness, and our upcoming USA travel plans where we can lockdown in the sun. I have no regrets, no complaints and just a wee bit of sadness for all that has happened, or not happened.

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    Please be sure to read next Friday’s blog to see what happens next for My Fab Fifties Life.

    See this week’s top performing pin here Maui Hidden Gems

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

    Reading Wednesday

    The Vanishing Half is the second book I have read by Brit Bennett. Her earlier work The Mothers was not one of my favorite reads, so I was hesitant to tackle The Vanishing Half. But I found a surprising story of family, race and identity. Here is my book review The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

    The Vignes sisters, Stella and Desiree, are twins growing up in the 1940’s in a rural southern town called Mallard. There hometown is known for being the place where fair skinned black Americans live. The people of Mallard shun their darker skinned ancestors but aren’t able to break into the white world where better jobs and futures await.

    Stella and Desiree are close and dream about the day they can leave Mallard. When they are 16 they run away to New Orleans. But then Stella disappears and Desiree is left wondering where her Vanishing Half has gone.

    Desiree marries a black man, but eventuallyleaves the abusive marriage. She returns to fair skinned Mallard with her ink black eight year old daughter Jude. Jude is looked down upon her entire life by the people of Mallard. Meanwhile Stella is living a life far away in California, putting her entire past and ancestry behind her, she has married a white man who believes she too is white.

    Eventually Jude arrives in California on a track scholarship and through a collection of events finds Stella there living secretly as a white women. The charade begins to unravel as secrets are revealed, lies are questioned and entire lives sit on the brink between two worlds; one black and one white. The Vanishing Half is a fabulously told story of race, family, emotion and the desire to be accepted for who we are. The story explores so many questions about choices we make throughout our lives and how those choices affect future generations.

    *****Five stars for The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

    Read last week’s review of The Girl with the Louding Voice

    My current read The Wild Things by Dave Eggers

    See this week’s top performing pin here – Mahi Mahi Cooking Hawaiian at Home

    Check out Maui Hidden Gems here

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    Island Life  --  North America Travel

    Maui Hidden Gems

    Maui Hidden Gems Treasures Throughout the Island

    Location: Maui Hawaii USA

    Most people come to Maui for the beach. And yes the beach is pretty incredible. I should say the beaches are incredible, because there are so very many to choose from. And I get it – the lure of the tropical ocean breeze and the lapping waves in the golden sand. It’s a perfect way to shed your stress and just relax. Ahhh…but you are missing Maui hidden gems.

    Wailea

    Maui has so much more than just the beach in front of your hotel or condo. And I want to convince you to get out and see the magic of this diverse tropical paradise and find Maui hidden gems.

    Kula Botanical Gardens

    So come with me on a around-the-island-tour of my favorite hidden places, businesses and vistas – Maui Hidden Gems.

    Start in Kula and head north for a full one or two day tour described below. Also start in Kula and head south to do the Going to Hana Backwards tour (see link below)

    Upcountry

    Our tour begins in Upcountry, away from the beaches. This interior area of the island offers a slower pace, a cooler climate and some of the island’s lushest and most diverse flora. Here’s our upcountry hidden gems;

    Kula Lodge – I haven’t stayed here but I hope to on my next visit. This hidden gem is a treasure. Even if you don’t stay, come for the pizza on their outdoor patio. Amazing.

    Pizza at Sunset on the Kula Lodge patio

    Kula Botanical Gardens – privately owned and beautifully presented, this hidden gem showcases tropical plants of all kinds, tucked into the mountain terrain.

    Maui Veteran’s Cemetery – located in Makawao, a brief stop here provides the visitor a peek into the reverence and respect Hawaii has for it’s veterans of all wars.

    Ocean Vodka

    Ocean Vodka – enjoy a tour and tasting, take some vodka or gin home, and marvel at the view from this mountain top distillery in Kula.

    And if you are inclined to do the Hana drive, we recommend you start in Kula and plan on Going to Hana Backwards. Learn more here.

    Kahului and Wailuku

    Most visitors don’t see more than the airport in these two island cities. Both cities are home to much of the islands full-time residents, government seat and industry. But hidden here are some of our favorite shops and one of our favorite Maui hidden gems restaurants.

    Sam Satos – low key and no website, this local noodle shop is rarely frequented by visitors. But it has become one of my favorite places to eat in Maui.

    Fabric Mart – I love picking up Aloha fabrics when in Hawaii. There are several fabric and quilting stores around the island, and the Kahului location of Fabric Mart is one of my favorites.

    Mochi from Maui Specialty Chocolates

    Maui Specialty Chocolates and Mochi – most visitors go home with Hawaiian Host chocolates. You’ll never buy Hawaiian Host again once you visit Maui Specialty Chocolates in Kahului. Try the Mochi too.

    Kahekili Highway (The North/West Tip Road) – Everyone has heard of the road to Hana, but Maui has another twisty, winding road with spectacular views – the hidden gem Kahekili Highway. Start this road in Waihee just outside of Wailuku and drive the lesser traveled route to Kapalui.

    Kahekili Highway

    West Maui

    Napili, Kapalua and Kaanapali make up the area known as West Maui and your drive around the tip of the West Maui Mountain on the Kahekili Highway will land you in Kapalua.

    Pineapple Hill – home to luxury homes with incredible views, Pineapple Hill can be walked on foot for an exhilarating hike. Watch for historic markers that explain the Maui hidden gems history of the Kapalua area, the Baldwin family and Pineapple Hill.

    Maui historic churches

    Kapalua Coastal Trail Labyrinth – Also called the Dragons Teeth Labyrinth this beautiful prayer labyrinth was built and is maintained by locals and is a true Maui hidden gem on the rugged Kapalua Coastal Trail. Walking the Coastal Trail is also a highly recommended activity.

    Labyrinth

    Historic Churches of Maui – throughout the island you will find many historic, often century-old structures. Some still in use today as places of worship, while others have been converted to other uses. West Maui has it’s share of this hidden gems.

    Lahaina

    Although it is one of the oldest Hawaiian settlements and was home to Hawaiian royalty, I am continuously disappointed in Lahaina. Over the past several decades Lahaina seems to have fallen from grace and needs someone to resuscitate it. Years ago it was home to shop after shop of local artisans including jewelry, sculpture and one of kind paintings. Today there are many boarded up windows and lots of tacky tourist tschotskis, alongside a handful of restaurants. Sidewalks are poor, paint is chipped and peeling and the town is a sad reminder of its former self. Lahaina does have some good restaurants worth a visit that keep this town alive. We really recommend Mala Ocean Tavern, Star Noodle and Down the Hatch.

    Additionally the Hawaiian government has lacked the initiative to preserve some of this island’s most sacred sites, that lie in ruin often behind chain link fences in Lahaina. These places are truly part of Maui hidden gems.

    Maui
    Maui Ghost Tours

    Maui Ghost Tours – take a walking tour of Lahaina and learn about the hidden gems of sacred sights, royal sights and lost sights important to the local Hawaiian people. It’s a fascinating tour.

    The Old Pali Road – as you drive from Lahaina south towards Kihei on today’s two lane highway called the Honoapiilani Highway, watch for remnants of the Old Pali Road built around the turn of the century. This old road remains in bits and pieces, a reminder of a simpler time on this beautiful island. You can walk parts of the Old Pali Road too.

    Koholo Brewing

    Kohola Brewing – hidden in a back parking lot of an industrial area of Lahaina, Kohola Brewing is a definite hidden gem of Maui. Maui is home to several outstanding breweries, but we loved Kohola’s industrial vibe and unpretentious operation. Go in search of good beer here.

    South Maui

    Kihei, Wailea and Makena make up the area known as south Maui and include some of the best beaches and hidden coves on the island. This desert area sits in the shadow of Haleakala and until the early 1980’s the road stopped at South Kihei where today the 5 Palms Restaurant is. Everything south of there has developed since then. It used to be a two day trip to get to the far end of the island. Today it takes about 30 minutes.

    Around the Island Trail

    Historic Around the island path – built in the 16th century the path used to circumnavigate the entire island, giving kings the power to control the island. Today remnants of the path can be found and accessed in many places.

    Hoopili Kings Highway – sometimes called the La Perouse Trail, this part of the old King’s Highway is the best maintained. Follow South Kihei Road until it ends, and you will be at the Hoopili path. Wear close-toed shoes and bring lots of water for this hot and barren landscape that crosses a 300 year old lava bed.

    La Perouse and Hoopilii Trail

    Secret Beaches – as you drive in South Kihei and Makena keep your eyes open for the many (often unmarked) beach access trails. Here you can find the secret beaches of Maui, often tiny coves and sometimes broad golden beaches.

    Wailea Path – if you aren’t staying at one of the fancy ocean front resorts in Wailea you may not know about the beautiful public boardwalk that runs the entire length of Wailea, about a mile and a half. A great place for a morning run, evening stroll and whale watching. Parking is available at several locations. It’s also a great way to get a glimpse at the beautiful resorts.

    Additional Hidden Gems

    Jolica Jewels

    Jolica Jewels – if you are looking for a perfect memento of your time on Maui, or maybe a special gift for that special someone, check out Maui based Jolica Jewels. Beautiful one of kind pieces of jewelry to fit any budget, all with a special Hawaiian flair, lovingly designed and created by local Jolica.

    Lei Making and Adventure Tours with Sarah – Learn to make a Hawaiian lei with a local. Go on a scavenger hunt for flowers then string together a beautiful lei. It’s easier than you think. Sarah also does tours of the island and guided hikes and salt gathering.

    Gathering flowers for lei making with Sarah

    Fresh Fish Maui – get the daily fresh catch report and order online with Fresh Fish Maui for the catch of the day delivered direct to your condo door. It’s the freshest and most delicious fish you can get on the island.

    And Those Are Our Favorite Maui Hidden Gems

    There you have it, some of our hidden gems of Maui. There is so much to see on this beautiful island, you can never see it all. So you’ll always need to come back for more. Maui no ka oi.

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    We love it when you share and pin our blog posts. Mahalo.

    The State of Hawaii and Island of Maui have strict rules regarding Covid. Please do your research when planning your trip. Learn more here.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Dare’

    Book Review

    I waited a long time for this book from the library, and it was worth the wait. The critically acclaimed story of a Nigerian girl who never gives up. Here is my book review The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Dare’.

    This is a story of neglect and triumph. Of heartbreak and inspiration. The story of a young Nigerian girl named Adunni, born poor and female – two strikes against her. Both work against her in a culture where men decide what happens to girls, and money is controlled by men.

    Adunni just wants to go to school. She craves learning. She craves a different life. She craves having a voice, a voice to speak up for herself and be somebody.

    This inspiring tale of young Adunni’s determination to break free from the poverty, violence and control she is born into. Despite every obstacle in her way she never gives up on her desire to learn and break free from the chains that bind her.

    The book is written in beautiful detail and you will be captivated by the characters. Not just those who befriend Adunni but those who control her. Even their sad state of affairs will touch your heart as Dare’ perfectly describes life in Nigeria for all economic levels.

    Adduni’s courage is an inspiration. I loved this book I hope you enjoyed my Book Review The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Dare’.

    *****Five Stars for The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare’.

    Read last week’s review of Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

    My current read The Cold Millions by Jess Walters

    See this week’s top performing pin Going to Hana Backwards

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    The link below is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click and make a purchase I will receive a commission. Thank you.

    Inspire

    Farewell 2020

    A Look Back at a Year We’d Like to Forget

    Location: USA

    Farewell 2020

    You will not be missed

    You made me stop traveling

    For which I’m still pissed

    **

    That dread Covid virus 

    I knew from the start

    Was going to be an issue

    If we didn’t act smart

    **

    But to our defense

    There was so much we didn’t know

    That damn corona virus

    Just grew out of control

    **

    We continued to travel 

    About six weeks more til we found

    Ourselves locked down on Cyprus

    And we were house bound

    **

    Seven weeks later

    With no virus end in sight

    We boarded the first airplane

    For a US bound flight

    **

    Safe back in the states

    We wait for the day

    That we could resume the Grand Adventure

    And go out to play

    **

    Meanwhile we remodeled

    Lost weight and did our run

    Learning to play golf 

    At least made the summer fun

    **

    And then we made it to Hawaii

    Maui is the best

    Nine weeks on the island 

    Helped with the stress

    **

    A look back at 2020

    And all that we know 

    Who would have ever imagined

    A pandemic could stop the show?

    **

    If I’m realistic

    The calendar can’t change

    The danger of the virus 

    In 2021 it remains

    **

    Vaccine might allow us

    To begin our life anew

    But so many deaths

    Way more than a few

    **

    So 2021 we are optimistic

    But we’ve learned we can’t know

    What’s in store for the planet

    Good health or another blow?

    **

    Can we say happy new year

    Or should we continue to pout

    Will 2021 be bountiful

    When 2020 is finally out?

    Maui

    *****

    God Speed my friends. Here’s to an optimistic New Year. 

    Thanks for your continued support! I’ll be back next week with a new Travel Blog.

    Farewell 2020! Happy New Year!!! Be safe, be smart, be patient.

    We are still trying to figure out where we go from here…hopefully somewhere sunny for a few months.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

    Reading Wednesday

    Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart is a heart-wrenching tale of childhood in Scotland in the 1980’s amongst addiction, poverty and sexuality. This is my Book Review Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

    Reminiscent of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, but set in Glasgow of the 1980’s, we are introduced to Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a child in search of love in a family of misfits, violence and addiction. Shuggie lives in rundown public housing during the Thatcher era of the 1980’s. Unemployment, drug and alcohol addiction, hunger and poverty are what Shuggie’s childhood is made of.

    Shuggie’s loyalty to his alcoholic mother, Agnes, even after his siblings give up on her and walk away, leaves Shuggie to care for his mother who falls deeper into drink. Agnes spends all the weekly ration money on alcohol, often leaving Shuggie without food for days. Agnes’ search for love in every man who comes along always ends in heartache and rape, taking her deeper into the drink.

    Stuart tells a story of heartache and addiction, a story of his own childhood played out in the pages of Shuggie Bain. Despite the depressing tale Stuart develops an incredible collection of characters who pass through Shuggie’s life, all told with depth and compassion.

    Don’t let the sadness of this story keep you from it – it is an important book to read, and well deserved of the coveted Booker Prize. Brilliant.

    *****Five Stars for Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.

    Read last week’s review of Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman.

    My current read The Burning by Megha Majumdar

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

    Reading Wednesday

    Well. Meh. This just didn’t do it for me. Here is my book review Anxious People by Fredrik Backman.

    My first Backman novel, A Man Called Ove, was one of my favorite reads of 2013. Over the past few years I also enjoyed My Grandmother Asked Me to Tel You She’s Sorry, though not as much as Ove. Then I read Bear Town and struggled through every page.

    But I thought I’d give Anxious People a go, yet here too I was dissapointed. Guess I need to take a break from Backman.

    Anxious People, very similarly to Backman’s other books, throws a collection of seemingly unrelated people together. This time, in a real estate, kidnapping, suicide, bank robbing story often sad and sometime funny, but never very compelling. A group of misfits all looking for something in life to bring them happiness and fulfillment in an anxious and awkward story. These characters are stuffed into an apartment at a real estate viewing and somehow their lives are entwined and their futures secured. Really?

    Granted this is an easy read, and if you are looking for something light and simple you will enjoy this look at how messy everyday people’s lives can be. Unfortunately the book is not very realistic with bumbling police, a man dressed as a rabbit, and a weird little plot twist that doesn’t really make the book any better.

    My apologies to Backman fans but this one fell flat for me. I keep Ove in my best of books, but Anxious People doesn’t cut it.

    **Two Stars for Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

    Read last week’s review of Sold on Monday

    My current read The Promised Land by Barack Obama

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